Elf Cups

Elf Cup
Elf Cup

The beautiful Scarlet Elf Cups can be seen on old mossy broadleaf logs at this time of year, but trying to work out which species they are can be quite difficult. There are two species Sarcoscypha austriaca and Sarcoscypha coccinea. The two species reveal themselves with the use of a microscope. Each species has a mixture of spores with both round and blunt ends, but the former has more blunt ones and the latter more round ones. S. austriaca also tends to have a few spores that appear to be germinating with appendages growing from the blunt ends. Both species also have fine hairs on the outside of the cups but S. austriaca hairs are curly whereas S. coccinea hairs are almost straight. Here we can see that this species is S. austriaca.